Here at Cloudberry, we are always looking for ways to increase efficiency and obtain more feedback from our users. When it comes to usability testing, we have a few ways we try to accomplish those goals. We run pilot tests in our office before going to real users and we are open to making small fixes to the prototype in between testing sessions, while adding big changes to the end of sessions for feedback. By completing these steps, we are able to effectively collect more user feedback on more features and options, leading to a better end product.
Running pilot tests
A pilot test can be a great tool for setting up your testing sessions for success. We always take the time to run pilot tests on a few fellow Berrians who aren’t working on the project before we go to actual users. A few tips:
- You can use a pilot test to examine your tasks and make sure they are easy to understand and ask the right questions.
- Practice makes perfect. Practicing facilitating with a real person is better than in front of a mirror.
- Pilot tests are good at getting a sense of how much time you will need for each user so you can plan your day(s) better.
- It’s a good final check of your prototype to make sure everything is clickable, all the copy is correct, and all the bugs are squashed.
- Sometimes, we even act on findings in the pilot tests. For example, if we find things such as the copy on a CTA was confusing, or a button didn’t look clickable enough, we can make those small tweaks to our designs before going into the real testing sessions.
Changing the prototype during testing
Things such as changing copy, adding a link, or changing a text link to a button, can be done relatively easily and might be worth changing on a longer break in the middle of the day.
- We recently had a situation where we avoided putting a “Home” link in the navigation, hoping users would know to click the logo. After a few users couldn’t navigate to home, we added the link to the main navigation in between sessions.
More complex updates to the design can be added at the end of sessions and presented as an alternative version, “What if it looked something like this, would that help?”
- This keeps tests consistent with all users seeing the same basic design, but still gives you insights into new solutions.
While making big changes to a prototype during testing can reduce the validity of your findings, correcting small errors that don’t change the fundamentals of your design can keep users from getting distracted. This, along with pilot tests to do a first pass for errors, allows us to maximize the results of our testing sessions and utilize user feedback to always build a better end product.